East Cleveland councilman pitches tent to protest, 'calm down some of the violence'

Updated: Jul. 10, 2017 at 6:35 PM EDT
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Source: WOIO
Source: WOIO

EAST CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Three weeks ago, an East Cleveland home was riddled with at least five stray bullets. Around that same time, four teens were hit by bullets on a corner near that house. Instead of hanging out at East Cleveland City Hall, one councilman is making a stand by pitching a tent near that corner.

Steven Cebaliss' house was the one hit with stray bullets. He says the gun play has put his neighborhood on edge.

"One got shot about seven times. A few other boys got shot -- they was just standing there, drive by," he said. "Anybody could have been walking through there."

East Cleveland councilman Ernest Smith, of Ward 3, is not sitting in a tent for his health -- he's putting himself at great risk by camping out in the lot near Allegheny and Orinoco. He says the violence is way out of hand.

"A young 12-year-old girl shot on Northfield, just two streets over. A lot of shootings happen in this area," he said. "I'm just out here to be a presence, to try and calm down some of the violence that's been going on because a lot of youngsters in this area, they will talk to me for some reason."

He said there hasn't really been a youngster hanging on the corner since he's been there.

"They come by, they speak, and they keep going -- it's just time for those who care to get out here on the street with our youth. I understand that our youth are our neighbors. They are not our enemies. Sometimes you have to go into a world to bring them out," Smith said.

Smith, who lives in the neighborhood, wants to inspire the teens by setting a good example.

"I'm a man of the people," he said. "So, I've had mostly people come out to visit, bring me water, apples, good prayers."

Smith says Mayor Brandon King, elected during a recall, and School Board President/former judge Una Keenon have dropped by the tent. But Smith says things will change for the better when the people take a stand to stop the violence.

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